The Western Hemisphere is becoming an important alternative to Asian sourcing, particularly in light of the US-China trade war and the threat of 25 percent tariffs on jeans imports from the country. According to the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel (OTEXA), denim apparel imports from the Western Hemisphere increased by 13.41 per cent in the first four months of the year to reach a value of $323.68 million. This represented a 27.4 per cent market share of all U.S. imports of denim apparel, 97 percent of which is jeans. The market share gained 8.17 percent for the year through April.
Countries such as Mexico, Nicaragua and Guatemala are leading growth in the region as a more local, faster-turn and generally duty-free option to sourcing from the Asian production giants like Vietnam, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Nicaragua’s jeans shipments to the U.S. jumped 23.57 percent in the period to $32.38 million, while imports from Guatemala rose 36.58 percent to $10.77 million.
The two countries are part of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which allows duty-free treatment under certain input stipulations and has boosted exports for U.S. yarn and fabric manufacturers. Jeans imports from the CAFTA countries rose 26 percent to $43.75 million in the first four months of the year compared to the year-ago period.